Ariana listened to Gary and she knew he was right. The treatment would be boring probably but Ariana still worried that something would go wrong, she was used to things going wrong that it almost seemed the normality nowadays. She tucked into his side when he pulled her closer and smiled a little at the sensation of his warmth and closeness.
“No idea.” She said to his comment about her mother and that was honest because she really didn’t know what was up with her. She’d always been a little smothering in nature but she didn’t expect any of this. It was the disapproval at every turn. Disapproval on Ariana and her choices, disapproval on her marriage, disapproval on their lifestyle. She couldn’t do right by the woman lately and it was exhausting. She could understand why Lisa had left her parents at the wayside, choosing to focus on Mike and her son. Ariana figures a time would come when she would do the same, but that was the natural order of things, except most people didn’t have to surgically remove their parents.
“Hm? Oh my mother would put Sherlock Holmes and the FBI to shame with her instincts of detection.” Ariana remarked. Her father would get caught eventually, and she didn’t want to be part of the fallout of that one.
“Lisa used to say she was like a predator. She could smell blood and fear.” Ariana pointed out and shook her head. It wasn’t far off, Margaret had an uncanny ability to intimidate and pick up on what made people afraid and use it against them. That much had been proven.
Ariana adjusted the blanket as she cosied down in the warmth, snug it would seem as she looked up to Gary. Each day was a gift, given what could have happened.
“It’ll be fine. It’ll work out, people will there if they want to be there. I can’t force anyone.” She said and honestly she didn’t have the energy to fight people and wage wars on her point, her energy better spent on Gary and the child growing within her. She ran a hand through her hair, teasing out a tangle and taking a moment. Gary was doing great today, he had worked in the morning and even managed lunch outside, a sure sign he was doing better, right?
“Hm, I might make something later. Pasta maybe, I could go for pasta.” She said thoughtfully. It would be more substantial than the soup earlier although the bread had done a good job of filling her up.
“D’ya need a nap?” She asked Gary, frowning at herself because that really did sound like she was admonishing a child and encouraging them ‘nap time, off you go.’
“Sorry that- didn’t come out as I expected.” She said with a soft laugh at herself.
Names and colours. Not a single smile, only worries etched Ariana's expressions. Concern for his well-being came first, apparently. He'd been feeling a lot better ever since receiving the antibiotics and so receiving a second round was a positive thing in his book. Just a preventive measure to make sure the infection wasn't allowed to take the upper hand a second time around.
"It'll probably be boring more than anything," Gary told Ri in a bid to ease her nerves. He expected them to hook the antibiotics up to him and just monitor his general condition. Nothing dangerous or exciting, where he was concerned.
Gary chuckled when Ri bemoaned her resolution of staying up for a normal duration. He wasn't doing that badly himself today, given that he'd gotten a few hours of work in and had gone for lunch. A sympathetic yawn threatened and Gary gave in to it.
"Hmm," he agreed on Ariana's lament. Drowsy eyes followed her thumb as Ri brushed it across the back of his hand. Whatever thoughts crossed Ri's mind were lost in what came next: regret?
"I think they're just happy they might become grandparents. It's what you'd expect a parent to behave like," Gary said with a sigh. It was a little unfair to phrase it this way, but it wasn't as if both Ri's parents behaved weirdly. Thomas had been more than happy at the prospect of becoming a grandfather, even if Margaret hadn't been.
"I don't know what's up with your mum though," he said softly. Right now, he really didn't feel the need to find out either. His head hurt and his leg was only just letting up. The pain wore him down in a unique way that he wasn't quite familiar with.
Gary closed his eyes and burrowed down on the couch a little further. Unlike Ri, he hadn't resolved to staying up for a normal duration. Thus, he simply closed his eyes and gave in to the comfort of the couch and Ariana's warmth next to him. Much like the other day, it felt quite relaxing to just sit there and do nothing. It felt as if he'd only been rushing before the accident. Never allowing himself to fully stop, fearful that his thoughts might catch up to him. Now that neither moving nor hard thinking was a prospect, Gary found his predicament both uncomfortable and cathartic.
That wasn't to say he wasn't keen on returning to the normal order of business as soon as he was able to however. Gary yawned a second time for good measure and pulled Ri a little closer into his side.
"How long do you think your dad can sneak around unnoticed anyway?" he asked. Not for very long, if history was set to repeat itself in the future. Evidently Lisa had been more direct or straightforward. A predicament Thomas was trying to solve by just ignoring Ri's threats. To be fair to Thomas, Gary didn't believe Ariana could find the courage to push through either. She did love her father and mother, after all.
Truthfully, Ariana was glad to be home beneath a cosy blanket with no need to rush around. The front door would ward off anyone and she just wasn’t in the mood to deal with anyone. That being said, Gary’s soft touches and the calm tone he adopted to speak did wonders for her. She looked to him and then trailed her eyes down to their hands as she felt him squeeze her fingers. They would be fine, she told herself. Ariana lifted her gaze to Gary’s when he mentioned discovering the gender of their child. Perhaps it would make everything more real and hopeful for them both because sometimes Ariana felt like she was walking through a dream somehow.
“Then we’ll have names to pick, colours...” she trailed off a little as she figured it all out in her mind. It was a lot but first they had Gary to get through his course of treatment.
“You have your appointment tomorrow, first. Let’s get you through that.” She said to him. She wanted to see him through that before they spoke of scans and such. Last time, Gary had been required to stay in hospital for an extra day or so. It might happen again and even though the scan would be a couple of floors away, he might miss it if he had to stay again. Ariana gave him a gentle smile as shifted slightly so she we was tucked against his side.
“I regret promising I would stay up all day.” She mumbled like a stubborn child up far past her bedtime. She rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn as she got comfortable, she would manage to stay up, she was sure of it. She figured she should distract herself from feeling sleepy, it was too early for dinner though. She looked down to Gary’s hand in hers and investigating it in silence, running her thumb over the back of his hand. It was still a miracle to her that he had survived the vicious accident in the snow, his life highlighted by the veins that shifted a little under her touch. She really had wasted a lot of time arguing with him, time would have been better spent loving him and reminding him that she really did still love him.
“How do your parents manage, Hm? But mine don’t. It doesn’t make any sense.” It didn’t make sense to Ariana, she was still trying to process everything and if she was being honest, she just wanted some sort of reasoning. Gary’s parents had been nothing but supportive and sweet, Mike’s parents much the same for her sister. Ariana realised sheepishly this might be playing on her mind a little too much and she fell quiet.
Deft hands stole his jacket and set down a glass of juice. Gary watched Ri go, the 'thank you' dying on his lips in a swirl of guilt and worry. Here she was, pregnant, risking her life for that of their unborn child and still she saw fit to care for him. And Gary regretfully had to admit he needed such care, unwilling recipient he might be. Soon Ariana returned to the bed and covered herself with a blanket, making herself comfortable. Gary zoned out watching her move.
She'd claimed to be alright and Gary didn't want to fight her on those words. No more than he wanted Ariana to fight him on his proclamation of being okay. Gary followed Ri's motion, the glass touching her lips, the liquid draining down her throat. Caught, Gary shifted and looked away.
"His choice it might be, it's still regretful," Gary muttered. Both of them had rather Thomas choose one over the other, but all was still left dancing in limbo. Ri's words were brimming with determination, where Gary feared her heart might not be as steadfast. Ariana's eyes opened to reveal her soft-coloured eyes and Gary sighed out deeply before reaching for his own juice.
He drank it in several tall swigs and put it back.
"We'll be alright," he repeated and put an arm around Ri's shoulders.
He settled back on the couch and allowed his attention to just drift off. It felt less strained that way. They couldn't change Thomas or Margaret, but they could change the way they handled their lack of compassion and dedication. At least they would have one another. Gary decided two could play that game. Ri would have him by her side, no matter what happened. Not even a car-accident could stop him from being there for her during these difficult times.
Gary pressed a kiss to the top of Ariana's head, fingers absent-mindedly stroking her neck and the dip where her collar-bone met her sternum. More words came to mind, but quick as the propped up, they died in the chaos that was his addled and over-worked mind.
"We might find out the gender on our next scan," Gary mentioned suddenly. A positive spark in an ocean of darkness. Even unborn, the child was a beacon of light. He found Ariana's hand and gave her fingers a gentle squeeze. They'd have to think about names in earnest. People would want to share in their happiness, most likely.
Gifts. Gary sighed. He didn't know whether he was ready for that much. Thomas' gift had all been but forgotten, perhaps to protect their own sanity more than anything else. It'd been too early perhaps.
It should've been an exciting time in their lives, unimpeded by their previous experiences. Gary merely allowed himself a delicate smile and nothing more. It'd be ever harder to deal with another blow like that the closer they got to the due date.
“M’fine, honestly.” Ri remarked, honestly not wanting to delve into great detail about how it felt to have a parent effectively turn their back on her. A father, of all things as well. Then again she wasn’t going to chase something that wouldn’t ever be caught. It wasn’t pleasant but she didn’t want to give it anymore attention than was warranted. Ariana would never be as outspoken or blunt as Gary, but she did have her own ways of pulling away from situations. She shifted slightly and looked over to Gary on the couch. She supposed she had her sister, his parents and of course, him. That was enough support and enough to bring a sort of contentment over her.
Ariana set down the glass for Gary and popped his jacket up in its rightful place by the front door before heading back through and picking up her own full glass before settling down on the couch and nodding in agreement with his statement about being tired. It seemed strange that they had barely done anything through the day but she supposed Gary was fighting off an infection. His appointment was tomorrow, another course of treatment she hoped would birth fresh results. She got herself comfortable and rigged down a blanket from the back of the seat, fluffing it over herself.
Ariana decided she wouldn’t bother with much else today, until dinner rolled around at least. It would have been nice to have at least one parent around to help ease off the pressure she felt, between wanting to make sure Gary was recovering well and carrying a child to term, it proved to be stress on its own. But then maybe that was all she should focus on from here on out. Gary’s recovery, their child, both things she should give the entirety of her attention to. Anything else was obsolete. Her eyes drifted to Gary, looking him over, contemplating the marvel of the man she had married. Despite everything he was still beside her, in more ways than one. Even her own father had left her to weather the storm alone, but not her husband.
She took a drink of cool juice before setting the glass aside on the table.
“Wasn’t how I expected things to turn out today.” She murmured and reclined a little. She stayed quiet for a few moments,
“His choice though.” She was reasoning away to herself, shifting blame from herself as best she could. It was difficult not to blame herself at times likes these, forever questioning what she had done wrong, anything to give a reason such an awkward turn of events.
“We’ll be alright.” She breathed out finally and opened her eyes. To fail at everything, to let everything fall apart would just prove her mother right and put them back to square one and she didn’t want to face that vast ocean ever again.
Things had turned awkward in the end. Gary belatedly realized that they might discover the gender of their baby with the next scan, which was in a few days and he couldn't help the smile that eased onto his face. Of course, Thomas was going to work his good old magic way about Ariana's resolution and get his way after all. Gary hadn't expected any different. Change was difficult and frankly, Ri didn't even want it. She merely wanted her parents to support her differently than what they were currently doing. She needed her father to make a choice and Thomas was scared of the repercussions. It was a dangerous balancing act.
When Ariana gathered her bag, Gary wrestled himself from the chair and onto his feet. He followed behind Ri at some distance, slower than he had been on going in. Walking with crutches was surprisingly draining.
When they finally did pull out of the parking lot, Ri seemed distracted. Gary sagged a little in the chair and watched the scenery drift by. His palms were sweaty. Gary looked down at his hands, which rested on his lap and sighed out, trying to calm himself.
As if privy to what he was going through, Ri asked him whether he was alright. Gary felt caught, but recovered quick.
"Yeah, I'm alright," Gary soothed Ariana's worries. She had enough on her plate and he was getting tired of repeating that yes, his leg was hurting him and he had a headache brewing. Today had been a long, active day. The first of many, he dared hope.
"Are you? Alright, I mean? Your father..." he knew words were not necessary to describe what had just happened. Ri probably felt the same frustration about the lack of progress they'd made today. Nothing was playing out the way they hoped it would.
"I meant what I said," Gary ventured.
If Thomas thought he could continue as they had before, he was going to do everything in his power to make it clear to the older man.
They arrived at their home before more could be said and Gary took in a deep breath. Again the crutches were making his life difficult and Gary struggled to get inside. Rather than torment himself any longer, Gary moved to the couch and put his leg up on the mound of pillows he'd abandoned several hours before. The relief was almost instant, but couldn't take away that he felt he'd run a marathon. Gary finally undid his coat and put it to the side. He'd put it away later, after he'd rested some.
"Tired me out," Gary complained and rubbed at his face.
Soon they'd know whether their child was going to be a boy or a girl. A weary smile pulled the corners of his lips. Each day passing without trouble was a victory in his book. And even though today they'd lost on several other fronts, the baby was still doing well.
The silence was uncomfortable, tense almost but at the same time disappointing. What was left to be said, anyway? Ariana instead busied herself with the soup and bread. Despite her appetite being mostly lost in the conversation that had come up, she still ate some of the soup, and most of the bread. She was unsure of what to say to break the silence, regardless of everything she didn’t want this to be uncomfortable.
“Your next scan will be soon, no?” Her father broke the quiet instead and Ariana took a drink from her tea.
“Yeah, we might even know the gender.” She said to Thomas who was obviously giddy at the thought, still not quite understanding what his decision meant despite Gary putting it straight with him.
“Will you call, still?” Thomas brooched with his daughter.
Ariana paused at this because that was a question she would be torn over. Had they not judt said they didn’t want secret calls and meetings?
“When I can.” Ariana replied finally as she took in a long breath, finishing her soup after some time. This was awkward and uncomfortable for all of them it seemed.
“Good.” Her father finished and reached for his wallet as the waitress put down their pill in a polished black tray. Ariana was quicker, not wanting to owe the man anything, to at least have some sort of control over that. Today had held such potential to fix things or at least start to and Ariana felt thoroughly embarrassed by how it had turned out.
Ariana stood and gathered her bag, looking to her father. Goodbye would have felt too permenant,
“I’ll call… when I can.” She reaffirmed, looking him over. It wasn’t in her nature to lose her temper and even if she did lose her temper no good would come of it. Thomas stood when his daughter did, nodding to her. Evidently he wasn’t quite understanding that this wasn’t pleasant anymore as he hugged her and then released despite Ariana not really returning the show of affection.
“Get home safe.” He said to them both but Ri was already halfway out the door.
She unlocked the car and waited for Gary, getting the door for him to save him struggling. She got into the drivers side and she was silent, stoic as she kicked the car into action with a turn of the key. She pulled off and didn’t spare a glance to her father who was getting into his own car. She just wanted to go home and pretend today didn’t happen.
“Are you alright?” She asked Gary as she kept her eyes on the road, pondering on whether his leg or head was giving him any issues. The last time they had been out was New Years and although they had both enjoyed themselves, the aftermath hadn’t been quite as good for Gary.
Ariana wanted to apologise for her father, in fact both her parents but the quiet of the thoughts in her mind were much more appealing as she parked up outside their home. It wasn’t the end of the world, she guessed. Either way if they brought a child into this world it would be loved all the same. Ariana held the door for Gary and then closed it, shrugging out of her coat and hanging it on the peg, kicking off her boots and placing them neatly. She got herself a cup of juice and poured one for Gary, sitting at the kitchen table and finally breathing freely. She couldn’t afford to get stressed about this ordeal, for her sake and the child she carried and so she reasoned away with herself that this was all for the best and maybe her father would change his mind in time.
Thomas wasn't a stupid man. When he said he understood, Gary was inclined to just leave it at that and see how they could shape their interaction in a way that wouldn't put needless stress on Ri. For Ariana however, promises didn't seem to be enough. Experience had undoubtedly taught her that these things were difficult, if not impossible, to change. Gary already knew Ri would want her parents to be involved, which was why he'd apologized first. Lord knew Margaret wouldn't bend an inch in their direction, so it would be up to them.
Fickle. Gary couldn't help himself and buried his amusement in his coffee-cup. Ariana was right though. By the time Margaret would be interested in their grandchild, the pregnancy and difficult parts would have already been dealt with. Perhaps it was fear then, Gary deduced. Perhaps Margaret simply couldn't bear to see her child hovering on the edge of danger for so long. They were times like these that Ri needed her support most however. What mother would leave their child alone in such fearful situations?
Gary resolved he would never abandon his child in such a way.
Gary put his hand on Ri's underneath the table and sighed out. He'd suspected things might turn out this way.
The waitress interrupted the tense moment and allowed for some time. Gary looked over at Ri and slowly let go of her hand. Thomas' words couldn't easily be interpreted otherwise. The older man would stand by his wife, which was his privilege, but a painful decision in turn where it concerned Ariana.
Ri's forced smile ached. Gary returned her smile with an encouraging one. At least they were talking. As long as they were on talking terms, they could mend whatever hurt feelings were in play. Perhaps not now, when it was needed most, but surely after the child was born. It would be nice if the child would grow up to know two sets of grandparents.
Following her lead, Gary sighed and started on his soup as well. Unlike Ri, his stomach was vigorously complaining his delayed attempt at eating.
Gary slowed when the bottom of the bowl was in sight and just looked out the window, plucking bits from his bread. Despite the situation, it felt good to be outside again. To be amongst people. It helped him orient and grab hold of events more. His leg however was less happy with the entire situation. Gary enlisted the unoccupied chair opposite him and propped his leg up. He didn't care for decorum either. He simply wanted to prevent his leg from hurting the way he knew it would if he kept it down for too long.
For a moment Gary lost himself trying to make sense of the last few weeks, but he snapped out of it and finished his coffee. Things wouldn't change between Ri and her parents from just this, would they? It'd been a fool's errand.
Thomas watched the two of them. If the man was being completely honest, he did worry about both of them. He knew his daughters predicament was meant to be joyous but instead he could see dread and fear encapsulating them both and his son-in-law right that moment was in no fit state to bring up a child. Gary’s apology caught him off guard as he looked. He wasn’t expecting an apology, he knew how his wife could be.
At first, Thomas waved off the apology but paused when Gary continued. Thomas could sense the warning well and truly from what Gary was saying and he couldn’t say the man was wrong. It was clear that some sort of shift had taken place, and he had to commend him on putting Ariana’s needs before all else. He ran a hand through his greying hair and stirred the coffee, thinking very carefully. He looked to his daughter, pregnant with a child.
“I understand.” He commented and nodded to Gary.
Ariana glanced between them, almost nervously because the last thing she wanted was one of them getting angry at the other. She clasped her hands on her lap and shifted slightly.
“Do you though, dad?” She said to him quietly.
“Because I don’t think you’re understanding. This is difficult, for me and Gary. But I don’t want to do this cut off from my parents. Mom I can accept, she won’t change.” She explained and reached a hand over to rest on Gary’s leg, swallowing a little.
“I don’t want to meet in secret, or worry about calling you.” She said and Thomas sighed out. He had no idea where it all went so catastrophically wrong one his marriage but he did know the young couple before him shouldn’t be suffering.
“No, I do understand. Your mother is just… fickle.” Thomas started and Ariana shook her head,
“Mom will take an interest when she’s ready, and it might be too late by that stage. I just want to know, we, just want to know if you intend to stick around properly or if it’s going to be hushed you meetings.” Ariana said to him finally.
The meals were set down by the smiley waitress and it at least allowed Thomas some time to think. Ariana was his daughter, and Margaret was his wife. He knew Margaret wasn’t exactly a nice woman in her advancing years.
“Ari,” he remarked and looked her over then looked to Gary.
“Your mother is very alone in this world, she doesn’t get out so much as she used to, very few friends and her side of the family have died… If I turned my back, she would be very alone.” Thomas remarked.
Ariana watched her father speak and drew in a breath, unsure of how to take his statement. Was thy a no, then? She supposed at least it was some form of closure, despite it not being happily ever after.
“Right then.” Ariana said, determines to at least end this all amicably. She could see why Lisa has cut all contact but she busked herself with the soup, despite her appetite waning as she glanced to Gary with a slightly forced smile, just wanting to get through lunch and then go home.
Fine, was she now? Gary was about to interject and reason that she seemed absent-minded, when Thomas announced himself. He slowly relaxed his hold on Ariana's hand and sat up a little straighter. At least Thomas seemed to harbour them no ill will. Gary relaxed a hair and returned the older man's smile with one of his own. For a moment all was silent, and just when Gary decided he would reply Thomas, Ri managed to splutter out a reply.
Coping, huh? They were, but Gary wasn't sure whether they were coping alright. He met Ariana's eyes and gave an imperceptible nod. Frankly, he hadn't been able to do much at all, with his leg what it was and his head all muddled, but he was slowly improving. Each day his energy depleted a little slower, he was able to do more and think clearly again for longer.
That conviction wasn't helping him out with the menu right this second however. Gary squinted at the paper and sighed out, then just listened to what Ri and Thomas were having.
"I'll have a soup too," he ventured and put away the accursed paper and its finely printed lettering. The waitress disappeared, leaving them in awkward silence.
Gary looked up at Ariana's father and sighed out.
"I'd like to apologize for... For lashing out against Margaret," Gary started. "It was uncalled for and I wasn't thinking straight at the time," he apologized. That said, he wasn't about to kiss and make up until Margaret too apologized for saying that their desire to have a child was a sin. This time, Gary had no intention of just sweeping everything under the rug. Somehow, he could tell Thomas already knew it wouldn't be an easily reconciliation.
"The doctors... Their advise is for Ariana to slow down and not force herself into stressful situations. To take care of herself more diligently than she's already been doing and I feel that if... people can't be supportive, they don't have to play a role in what we're going through." For that part, Gary was not going to apologize. It was also a warning to Thomas. Gary wasn't going to allow their meetings to worry Ri needlessly. If Thomas wanted to be a positive presence, he could only cheer the older man on, because he felt it would bring Ariana comfort to know that at least one of her parents was proud of her.
Gary looked down at his hands as the waitress put down Thomas' coffee and only raised his steel blue eyes to look straight into those of Thomas. He wouldn't have this awkwardness or nervousness every time they met, only because Margaret was looming in the background either. At some point, Thomas was going to have to make a stand and realize that making no decision meant he sided with Margaret by default.
Ariana matched Gary’s pace, holding the door open for him as she looked around the restaurant. Her father hadn’t arrived yet which wasn’t a surprise given they were early. She followed Gary to the table he had chosen as took a seat, looking out the window. What if her father just simply didn’t show? She looked to Gary when he spoke and her brain caught up in its distracted state. Oh, there was a waitress.
“Tea, please.” She said to her and watched her head off. She adjusted her hair behind her ear, the few loose strands proving to be untameable. As if mattered what her hair looked like.
“Back to work?” She said and thought for a while. She still thought it was too soon and he might be pushing himself further than he could manage. She looked Gary over and then she nodded.
“Maybe, as long as you don’t feel like you’re overdoing it.” She said. It wasn’t work that bothered her so much as the after-work activities.
“Yeah, I guess if you want to.” It wasn’t good for him to be cooped up in a house, she supposed. Maybe they would know better after the hospital apppintment tomorrow.
“I’m fine.” She said when she felt his hand in hers and she gave it a gentle squeeze to solidify her point that she was alright. If she was being honest, she wasn’t sure how she felt. And when her father came through the door, she wasn’t sure what to do.
Thomas looked over and caught sight of them, what a pair they were, and made his way over to them, sitting opposite Ariana with a smile fixed in place. The two of them looked somewhat better than the last time he had seen them both, but still not exactly a fit couple ready to welcome a baby into the world.
“It’s nice to see both.” He said to them,
“How is everything?” Everything meant Gary’s leg, the pregnancy, them as a married couple and the countless other things they had to cater for right then and Ariana looked decidedly lost for a moment.
“Yeah- Fine. Gary has an appointment tomorrow and my next appointment is… The day after I think?” She remarked, trying to remember and Thomas shook his head.
“I mean are you both coping alright?” His tone was gentler, softer than usual and it was amazing to see what the man was like without his wife nagging at him in the background. Ariana seemed to take a little while to understand the question.
“We’re doing… okay.” She said and glanced to Gary, hoping they could at least agree on that. Thomas nodded and looked about to speak again as the waitress came back over with Gary’s coffee and Ariana’s tea. She materialised a notepad and asked if they would be wanting food.
Thomas nodded to her,
“Coffee please and I’ll take a toasted sandwich.” He said as he looked to Gary and Ariana, more so Ariana because she had to eat. Ariana glanced to the menu, taking a moment.
“Oh, soup, please.” The soup did look good and she was quite partial to a chicken and noodle soup. The waitress jotted down the orders, waiting on Gary’s before disappearing once again.
Moving was slow, but his muscles were grateful for being able to stretch out at long last. Gary started to realize how uncomfortable the crutches really were however, especially when he moved his way towards the little restaurant. That, and he tired quicker than he meant to. Tomorrow would be the day of the treatment, which Gary started to appreciate was necessary. It was as if the infection clung to him in more ways than one. No, he didn't have a fever and he didn't feel particularly ill, but his energy was sapped so easily it was worrying still. They were early.
Gary had to wait for Ariana to hold the door for him. He hobbled inside and smiled at the waitress in passing. There was a table not far from the door near the window and Gary didn't bother looking any further. Rather, he pushed one crutch in the corner and slid in clumsily, grateful to be seated once again.
Gary took a deep breath to meet his lung's demand for oxygen and rested back. Moving around at home was wildly different from having to move around in the 'wild'. And he'd thought the transition from the hospital to home had been harsh. Gary brushed his hair back and waited for his breathing to calm down. At least the restaurant was quiet, considering it was a business day and everything. He didn't feel as overwhelmed as he had before. After a few minutes of just being seated, the waitress came up at them to inquire after their order.
"A coffee," Gary ventured, then looked at Ri for what she would have.
He reached out for the menu, but reconsidered. They ought to wait for Ri's father to join them before ordering food. That, and the small characters depicting their choices were in a weirdly shaped lettering that didn't quite agree with his barely suppressed headache. Gary forced himself to relax a little and just watched Ariana to distract himself. His eyes wandered outside, where the grimy weather drew a sharp and rough picture of the streets. It felt good to be this awake, to finally be forced back into some decorum of normalcy again. He still felt far too out of it to his liking.
"I was thinking," he started, "maybe I should talk about working some afternoons. Just to get back into the swing of things." Of course, they'd all be at the office and he wouldn't be able to get out and actually do the interesting things, but still. It'd give him some form of regularity back. He managed a few hours alright, if it was just that in a day. Surely in a few weeks he'd be fine to work a morning or two a week?
Gary took a deep breath and reached out for Ri's hand.
"How are you feeling?" Worry was laced through the words. Gary hadn't yet regained the acuity to carefully mask his emotions. He felt protective over her. More so than ever before.
Ariana sleepily lazed into her husbands touch and listened to him. Did he forget the bruising? She supposed the leg took more presidency right then given it was more obvious than his jostled brain. She closed her eyes and hummed a little when he asked about work.
“Just emails. All admin stuff, not exciting like your work.” That much was true. Gary was always chasing a story or something of the like, every day was different. Ariana was more of a receptionist these days.
Ariana sat up when he went about trying to find a shoe, watching him as she stretched.
“Mm, you’re right. I said in about an hour or so.” She remarked and glanced to the clock as she stood up and started to tidy some things away, laptop included as she set it aside. She put on a pair of trainers, figuring that boots weren’t a good idea in the slush and any form of heel during pregnancy wasn’t going to work out great.
She grabbed a coat, throwing it over her form and untucking her hair from the coat collar before grabbing a scarf and wrapping it around herself and looking over to Gary.
“C’mon.” She said with an encouraging smile. She grabbed her keys and a bag with some bare essentials in it. She headed out into the cold and held the door for Gary before locking up. She got the car door for him before slipping into the drivers seat. She switched the engine on and put the heating up to stave off the cold as she pulled off. She was careful to drive slowly, mostly for Gary’s benefit and mostly because she didn’t trust the wet roads. The radio buzzed around a little from station to station but at least the christmas songs were gone for the next twelve months.
The little restaurant wasn’t far and Ariana parked your in the car park, close enough that Gary wouldn’t have to hobble too far and she took a deep breath as she shut the car off, Sterling herself for whatever this would bring.
Up to them, was it? He watched Ariana pull out her phone and just sat there, listening to the television without actually looking at anything. Ri would drive. Gary gave her a slow nod, feeling a little nervous at the prospect but reminding himself that the last few times Ariana had driven them places everything had been fine. That, and the roads were clear too. It dawned on Gary that Ri saying that to ease his nerves meant he'd been an open book in regards to his thoughts and emotions.
"It's not-..." he ventured and then sighed. What was the point? Even on a good day, Ri was very finely attuned to what was going on in his head. Not so much before the accident, maybe, but with renewed interest she might be getting back to her old ways.
Oh. "Oh, that, yeah," Gary said with a blink and gave Ri a small smile. It'd been a few days now, so he'd expect them to be gone. His body was healing after all, even if some parts took longer than others. Ri was right. He had to hold hope.
Gary put an arm around Ariana's shoulder and nuzzled her hair. It smelled fresh with the scent of her shampoo.
"Don't be sorry," he excused her guilt. It seemed silly to want her to be a nurse. As if nurses knew that much better. If anything, they'd just serve to make him feel sick for longer. He just rested like that for a while, comfortable in Ariana's presence. The painkillers did their job well enough he didn't feel any major discomfort, other than a little pressure behind his temple, where he'd hit his head.
Gary knew that bruise was still visible, even if it had mostly faded.
"Did you get some work done?" Gary asked, just to make conversation and divert their attention from things that couldn't be undone.
He sat up a little. "What time did you agree on?"
Gary hated not being in control of these things. Usually he was the one arranging their social events, going out to friends or the pub. Lately he'd been arranging them for himself, mainly. Both of them had been making mistakes. Gary ran his hair back and shifted.
"We should leave a bit early," he suggested. It'd take him a little more time to get from point A to B as it wasn't as if it was likely they could park in front of where they needed to go. Gary hoisted himself up and grabbed a crutch to go in search of a shoe to wear. Going out would be nice for a bit. He felt like they'd been cooped up for too long already. Since New Years, honestly.
Gary’s presence on the couch was a comfort. She shifted slightly as she closed her laptop and set it aside, glancing to Gary who was evidently staving off the headaches that paired up fatherly poorly with the concussion. She couldn’t help but be sympathetic when he lamented how long the concussion had lingered and she couldn’t even soothe his worries because she didn’t know how long it would last but maybe his next round of treatment would be of some help. She placed a hand on his leg gently and sighed out a bit.
“I’m not sure, dad said it was up to us.” Somewhere light was probably a good start and she pulled out her phone and reclined back, leaning into Gary a little. She scrolled through some messages and found her dads number, sending a quick text they could meet at the small place not too far from home. She had to remember little things took it out of Gary currently so the closer to home, the easier it would be for them all.
“I’ll drive, yeah.” She could sense the concern in his voice and she added,
“The roads are clear now.” She assured and she could understand his hesitance with transport, she couldn’t blame him either. He had almost died in a vehicular collision, anyone would be the same.
Ariana glanced to the time and set her phone aside. They still had some times before they needed to worry about leaving. She did have a worry that her mother would turn up but she doubted it and even if she didn’t, she knew her father would no doubt say something stupid or be overly caring, if there was such a thing. He was doing his best to make it up to her about everything that had happened lately and Ariana could only hope he at least kept up some sort of contact despite her mother’s surly attitude and cold shoulder. It wasn’t pleasant, none of this was. A new baby should have been a time of family pulling together and celebration but it all just seemed so doom and gloom with everything going on. It was chaos.
Ariana settled back and figured a couple of hours relaxing before they had to head out into the elements and brave a new venture would be pretty decent for them both.
“At least most of the bruising is gone.” Ariana put in, in an attempt to at least find some sort of bright side to the headaches and aches and pains Gary was experiencing. It was trie, she didn’t know what was going on under that cast and she wasn’t sure she wanted to but his bruising and cuts were healing up and fading as well as could be expecting. It was the innards of his head that proved the issue.
“Sorry- I should have been a nurse, I’d feel a little helpful.” She said to him, realising her attempt at comfort might have come off as a little lame.
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